Monday, March 23, 2015

Average Woman's Height

A quick observation: statements like "the average woman's height is 64 inches" are almost always misinterpreted. Here's the main problem: people think that this is referencing an archetypal "average woman", when it's not.

The proper parsing is not "the (average woman's) height"... but it is "the average (woman's height)". See the difference? It's really a statement about the variable "woman's height", which has been measured many times, and then averaged. In short, it's not about an "average woman", but rather an "average height" (of women).

Of course, this misunderstanding is frequently intentionally mined for comedy. See yesterday's SMBC comic (as I write this), for example: here.

1 comment:

  1. What, I wonder, is the modal height for women?